Kids' Cognitive Development and the Importance of Playing Sports

Kids have a natural propensity for physically exhausting activities. With lots of energy to burn, many kids gladly take up various sporting activities through which they unknowingly satisfy their intrinsic needs such as feeling of belonging, sense of achievement and even competitiveness.

In the past, many parents were often concerned that their children may spend disproportionately more time on the sports field rather than studying. Today, kid’s preferences are shifting towards the visually stimulating digital world of endless TV

shows, games and other online content and parents are now worried that their children don’t spend enough time outside being active, much less on a sports field.

Healthcare specialists echo such concerns, pointing out that limited exposure to sports and other outdoor activities may have long term negative consequences for the physical and mental development of kids. As a matter of fact, there is some empirical evidence to suggest a co-relation between physical activity (or lack thereof) and mental development in children. Research suggests that adolescents who do not play sports may develop a tendency to indulge in risky behaviour like alcohol and drug abuse as well as suicide attempts.[1]

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, children need to spend at least an hour a day engaging in some form of physical activity like cycling, walking, climbing up stair, etc. Playing sports regularly is known to insulate children against developing some forms of pathological behaviours. Sports teach children to manage their behaviour as individuals as well as part of a group, learning to work with others, fostering sense of camaraderie and shared objectives. Participating in sports also provides kids with valuable lessons on coping with victory and defeat. Lastly, it allows them constructively channel their aggression and learn effective self-control.

Some young people tend to engage in inappropriate behaviour while their cognitive system are developing. Those adolescents who engage in sports regularly, facilitate the cognitive development process, eventually leading to them growing up grounded and balanced. Children who have access to sporting facilities are able to explore, create and innovate through the process of playing. They get valuable practice to develop social skills that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

All children regardless of nationality, ethnicity and economic background take to it naturally. Learning through play is a trait that humans share with many other members of the animal kingdom. This evolutionary ability helps our little ones get ready for the rough and tumble of life ahead.

No child whether due to the preponderance of digital toys or the lack of the means to play should be kept away from participating in sports and other forms of physical activity. It is incumbent upon everyone - parents, government, civil society, non-government organizations, healthcare practitioners and educational institutions to make sure that children around the world have access to and are able to enjoy playing sports.